I was raised a Catholic. It is one of those things that kind of stays with you. Even folks who leave the church can't quite shake the feelings of guilt or the extreme dogma shoved down our throats. While I went to church on Sundays and was late to school on holy days of obligation, my folks were raised RC through and through. They went to Catholic schools. Kids got beat in those days. Now the church has toned down a bit. In those days they spoke Latin in school and the masses were in Latin. As a choir boy, my dad even sang in Latin. When I was a kid, sometimes he would sing it for us. He was a soloist back in the day and had a decent voice, so it was pretty.
My dad wanted us to know the Bible. In adulthood, even among my secular friends, I know a tidbit or two that sometimes are lost on others who weren't raised so close to the church. The fact I knew Ishmael was the father of Islam got me a free cab ride once. Like many families, we had a family Bible. Everyone from several generations onward was listed in the front.
Both my parents were raised German Catholic. My dad's family was more from Austria, and my mom's from Bavaria, the Southern part. South Germany is very Catholic by the way, as the North is Lutheran. Anyway, when the German's came to America, they opened their own churches and schools. One of their favorite tactics was to scare the hell out of the children into behaving like good citizens. So they told them frightening stories about Satan and such so they would not be sucked into that world. While my family has not spoken German for sometime, and we had representatives for America in both World Wars, the scare your children stayed with us.
I still remember as a kid my dad tried this tactic to teach us about the devil. My dad told my sister and I this crazy story about how the devil nabbed children who looked in the mirror for too long. He would take these spoiled children, according to the story, and make them slaves in hell. Anyway, the devil made a mistake and sent his henchmen to kidnap the two little girls. They were dragged to hell and scared because there was screaming. I still remember my sister and I were freaked out because my father named the children April and Brenna. Anyway, according to the story the two little girls had faith in God. So they asked Jesus to save them. Because they had faith God sent the Archangel Michael to save them. After Michael defeated Satan the two little girls were brought to safety. I was scarred for sometime. Couldn't and wouldn't look in the mirror. My mom of course yelled at my dad because my sister and I had persistent nightmares. Needless to say there were no more two little girl stories after that. But looking back, I had to give my pop's credit. He made the whole thing an action adventure.
As I have gotten older, I can laugh about those crazies stories my dad told. They are funny because again, they are a Bible action adventure. They are also funny because in his own twisted way he was sincerely trying to help. Truth be told though, I do believe in a God just as I believe in a devil. Before you go saying I am trying to convert you, that is just one name for the positive and negative forces in this world. Some call it good chi, bad chi I dunno. The thing is, I don't believe it is red, has a tacky pitchfork or fake horns but is alive in our present time. We humans we have many names for it.
In my travels I have met rotten people who have believed certain points of view towards others, particularly that it was okay to discriminate against certain groups, was okay. I have also encountered zealots who thought they were getting the guidance of a so called God. Oh and lump in there people who embezzled and stole without thought. Lest we not forget people who were so angry that they took it out on others. Or then there are those who used people that were unwitting for their gain. Of course I was always taught while evil is cunning and bold, it is never smart. It is always caught. The Postman always rings twice.
I have also seen the so called devil or negative force in my professional life too. When comedians get something that others feel is owed to them, the fangs come out. The gossip about that person starts and soon the water is polluted with lies. Sometimes, the person is slandered online anonymously by their so called friends. I know because it has happened to me. It's like that green eyed monster comes out and enters the body of people. I remember taking it all so personally too. Suddenly, I was an angry victim. I was lashing out at everyone. I was ungrateful. I didn't care about being funny and suddenly was chasing the glamour of being on national television. As my ego got bigger, I covered it up with bravado to hide the fact I felt empty, alone and miserable. In feeding the negativity, I was blocking the light. I was blocking out people who wanted to see me succeed and to help me. Most importantly, I failed to see the ability to make others laugh is a gift. It is something to be shared with the world, not just for my own self gain. But it is easy to feed into.
I have also been of course bitten by the green eyed monster in my comedy career. Yes, there have been male comedians who have bumped me because I have been a woman thus being unfairly shafted. Or there have been people who have had doors open for them based on filling a niche whether it be a look, a need for an ethnic friend, whatever. No one said show business was fair. And it is a difficult thing to see someone who is just a pretty boy move ahead because they cliqued with the right group. Or someone who doesn't work hard get a break because they were at the right place at the right time. Or worse yet, you slave for a long time and it never seems your day will come. Therefore you take it out on yourself and everyone else by being miserable. Or you get angry at someone for taking what you believe is yours. I have done all of this and more. Of course it is all fear based. We never believe we will get what we want and we have this gnawing phobia that we will lose what we have. Fear. The negative force feeds right into it and we dive right in.
Then of course there are the negative people. They try to steer us away from our ambition, tell us it can never be done. Or they are romantic partners who put us down. Of course there are abusive, pushy people we cross paths with on the regular. Truth be told, the devil/the negative force/bad chi walks around on two legs on this planet every day and we have to choose.
Today started with a message from someone from my past who is negative. Let's just say he is mean spirited, abusive, and tried to cheat me out of some money. I got this individual banned from a comedy club I once worked at. Without thinking of it, I blocked him making the boundary and our lack of a relationship clear. I didnt feed into him. I also had a run in with a mean girl and stood up for myself. This is someone who is bossy and always has to win. She and her toadie sometimes gang up on me which isn't very nice. I let her upset me for a minute but then remembered I had to go talk to a hospital about doing shows for sick children. The negative people of the world need a beat down, but the sick children need to smile more.
Maybe as I get older, I have more faith and know I will be protected.
Maybe as I get older, I know not to feed into the stupidity of negative people because they are meaningless.
Either way, the older I get the more I realize I shouldn't give stupid bullies my energy. I shouldn't fearfully envy others believing I will never get my turn. Rather, I should concentrate on my own side of the street and my own game. I should use my gifts to benefit the world as I benefit myself. I shouldn't look into the fires of hell and feed the negative spirits that wander the Earth looking to suck energy from whatever source they can. And whenever I feel weak, know that there is a better way, a light.
Maybe, just maybe, in the twisted world of Bible fan fiction the Archangel Michael is my homeboy after all.
I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl